BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – A relieved Frank Yallop greeted the assembled Chicago press corps for the first time with a home victory under his belt, and insisted there was “room for improvement” after a hard-fought 2-1 win that saw his Fire team hang on nervously against 10-man Sporting Kansas City.
The Chicago Fire head coach, though pleased with a victory earned on the back of Mike Magee’s two first-half penalties and a resilient second half rearguard action, is acutely aware that his side need to improve defensively if they are to build on their recent two victories.
“Coming away with three points against a good side is obviously the aim before the match,” Yallop told reporters at Toyota Park. “We got it done, we’re unbeaten in two games, we dug through and we got the result we needed. Should have seen them off, we had a couple of chances late in the game, but we didn’t take them and you’ve got to give credit to Kansas City.
“They kept going, created some chances late with ten men, but it’s great to get that win and it felt good that we saw it through. There’s room for improvement in any performance and there’s no difference with this one.”
The Fire were second best in the possession stakes once again with just 42 percent of the ball to SKC’s 58 percent and, with the concession of a 68th-minute goal to Dom Dwyer, are yet to record a clean sheet in ten games.
But that’s not something that overly concerns Yallop, whose attacking ethos has meant chances, and goals.
“We won the game, we’d love to get a shutout, but winning is everything,” he said. “If we win 3-2, 2-1, or whatever it is, we’ll take it. Obviously it’s nice defensively if we can get a shutout, but as you know it wasn’t a defensive back four error, it was someone not picking up someone on a set-play, so that’s a team thing.”
Striking a balance between attack and defense is still something that eludes Yallop and his team, but it’s something he and his backroom staff are working on each day.
“We’re working on stuff all the time, it’s brand new, we’re ten games in, I’m happy with only two games lost in this league with a group that has been put together a little bit,” he admitted.
“The way I’m trying to set the team up is obviously to try to out-score the opponent and ensure that we are going forward, but we’ve also got to be solid and defensively sound at the back. Right now we’re in a good spot, we’ve got a chance now to get going but the next four games are tough.”